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Archive for May 3rd, 2010

Randy Winn burst from the shadow of relatively obscurity with a game winning three-run blast that broke a 1-1 deadlock in the fourth inning. Winn’s homer was only his second hit of the season, but could go along way toward garnering him more playing time in the absence of Curtis Granderson. More importantly, it was the climax of the Yankees only run scoring rally and provided all the runs that C.C. Sabathia would need.

Despite throwing 67 of 106 pitches for strikes, Sabathia wasn’t as sharp as usual in the early going. In the second inning, he gave up an impressive opposite field home run to Matt Wieters on a fastball up in the zone, but was still able to keep the Orioles’ hitters off balance with a nice mix of all of his pitches. Thanks to an effective slider and change, Sabathia continued an early season trend of keeping his infielders busy. Including double plays, 16 of the 24 outs recorded by Sabathia were on the ground. Coming into the game, Sabathia’s ground ball rate was a career high 53% of balls put in play, so tonight’s effort will only add that.

Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira were presented with their 2009 Gold Glove awards in a pre-game ceremony.

For the first three innings, Jeremy Guthrie was actually outpitching Sabathia by using the same approach of mixing his entire arsenal of pitches (and notably hitting his spots instead of Yankee batters). In the fourth inning, however, he ran into trouble, thanks in large part to a sure double play ball off the bat of Jorge Posada that was mishandled by Ty Wigginton. Although not an easy play, a more experienced second baseman would have easily turned the twin killing against the slow-footed Posada. Forced to get an extra out, Guthrie gave up the lead on a long single by Nick Swisher that just missed clearing the right field wall. Brett Gardner then followed with a single before Winn wrecked Guthrie’s night by sending a 1-0 fastball deep into the right field seats.

Once he was given the lead, Sabathia relied more heavily on his fastball to plow through the Orioles’ lineup. In fact, the only real opposition he encountered from that point forward was from home plate umpire Bill Hohn. Sabathia’s game long frustration with Hohn’s strike zone temporarily came to a head when the big lefty visibly gestured toward Hohn during a seventh AB against Lou Montanez. Sabathia wound up walking the hitter on what YES analyst Al Leiter termed an “angry fastball”, but the big man quickly regained his composure and breezed through the eighth inning.

Despite the win, tonight’s game was not without its dark clouds. Before the top of the sixth inning, Jorge Posada was removed the game with what was called tightness in his right calf. Posada was sent to the hospital for an MRI, but no further details were disclosed. Also raising an eyebrow was the use of Joba Chamberlain to close out the 4-1 victory. After the game, it was revealed that Mariano Rivera has been suffering from minor tightness in his left “flank”. In a post game interview, Rivera did not seem concerned by the injury, but the absence of Enter Sandman in a save situation must have been very discomforting to Yankee fans.

C.C. Sabathia’s Pitch Breakdown By Inning

Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total Pct
Fastball: 90-92 5 2 5 4 5  0 2 1 24 23%
Fastball: 93+ 6 5 3 6 4 2 7 3 36 34%
Sinker 1 1 2 1  0 4  0  0 9 8%
Slider 4 4 2 1 2  0  0 3 16 15%
Curveball  0 1  0  0  0  0  0 1 2 2%
Change  0 4 4 4 1 4 1 1 19 18%
Total 16 17 16 16 12 10 10 9 106  

(more…)

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The Orioles come into the Stadium flying high after a rare weekend sweep of the Boston Red Sox. The first game of the series features a rematch of last Wednesday’s game in Baltimore, when C.C. Sabathia bested Jeremy Guthrie.

An interesting subplot to the game will be Guthrie’s command, or lack thereof when pitching inside to Yankees hitters. In 12 career starts against the Yankees, Guthrie has plunked nine Yankee batters, more than three times the amount of any other team and nearly 40% of his career total. After last week’s game, Girardi admitted that he was frustrated by Guthrie’s wildness, which also reared its head in a spring training game back in March. Should Guthrie hit another Yankee batter, perhaps that frustration will boil over?

After a mini controversy concerning the health of his knee, Arod is back in the lineup at 3B. Randy Winn also makes a rare start in LF as the Yankees aim to fill the void left by Curtis Granderson’s groin injury. Girardi hasn’t committed to a strict Winn/Thames platoon, but that is likely to be the modus operandi in the near term.

vs. Jeremy Guthrie PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 40 0.316 0.300 0.368 0 2
Nick Johnson DH 3 0.500 0.667 0.500 0 0
Mark Teixeira 1B 20 0.071 0.350 0.143 0 1
Alex Rodriquez 3B 31 0.217 0.387 0.435 1 6
Robinson Cano 2B 33 0.250 0.273 0.500 2 4
Jorge Posada C 18 0.267 0.389 0.467 1 2
Nick Swisher RF 25 0.476 0.520 1.048 2 8
Brett Gardner CF 5 0.400 0.400 0.400 0 0
Randy Winn LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 175 0.287 0.326 0.493 6 23
             
vs. C.C. Sabathia PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Adam Jones CF 14 0.333 0.429 0.500 0 2
Nick Markakis RF 23 0.238 0.217 0.429 1 4
Ty Wiggington 2B 29 0.308 0.379 0.500 1 2
Miguel Tejada 3B 38 0.343 0.395 0.600 2 5
Matt Weiters C 10 0.111 0.200 0.111 0 0
Garrett Atkins 1B 10 0.625 0.700 0.625 0 2
Nolan Reimold DH 13 0.455 0.462 0.545 0 1
Lou Montanez LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Cesar Izturis SS 19 0.211 0.211 0.211 0 0
Total 156 0.312 0.359 0.461 4 16

 

 

Yankees vs. Orioles    
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
NYY: 2-1 NYY: 13-5 NYY: 11-7 NYY: 1224-839
  • Before the game, MLB announced that Robinson Cano was named American League Player of the Month for the second time in his career. He was previously honored with the award in September 2006.
  • Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira will be presented with their Rawlings Gold Glove awards in a pregame ceremony.
  • Alex Rodriguez remains one HR behind Frank Robinson for 7th place on the all-time list, while Derek Jeter needs one 2B to bypass Don Mattingly for sole possession of third place on the franchise leader board.
  • Sabathia is 10-1 lifetime against the Orioles, including victories in his last five starts against them. Conversely, Guthrie has lost his last five starts against the Yankees.

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Before today’s game, the Yankees announced that Javier Vazquez’ next start in Fenway park will be skipped. The decision does not come as much of a surprise, and the logic behind it is very sound. Whether you believe Vazquez’ problems are mental or mechanical, it stands to reason that he could benefit from a rest. Presumably, Vazquez will use the next seven days to work closely with pitching coach Dave Eiland and then rejoin the rotation on May 11 in Detroit.

From the Yankees standpoint, they avoid opening up a series against Boston with the struggling Vazquez, which not only improves the team’s chances of winning, but also could help avoid having to overextend the bullpen at the start of what usually is a grueling series. While there is some risk that the temporary demotion could be a further blow to Vazquez’ already fragile psyche, I think another poor outing amid the intensity of the rivalry would do much more damage.

The season is still young, so by no means should the Yankees consider pulling the plug on Vazquez. As long as the time off is used productively, this temporary setback could wind up being a turning point in his season. In the meantime, the Yankees and Vazquez need to figure out what is at the heart of his problems and attack them with the same aggressiveness that Javy needs to be using against American League batters.

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In what promises to be one of the more contentious mid-term election years in recent memory, immigration reform has pushed itself to the forefront of issues dividing our nation. Not surprisingly, the passion behind the issue also threatens to divide our national pastime.

In a highly unprecedented move, the Major League Baseball Players Association went so far as to publicly criticize the law and call for its repeal. The MLBPA has always been known as a very insulated organization, so its decision to delve into an issue of national significance is noteworthy. What’s more, it also puts pressure on Bud Selig and baseball’s ownership to respond in kind.

All of these players, as well as their families, could be adversely affected, even though their presence in the United States is legal. Each of them must be ready to prove, at any time, his identity and the legality of his being in Arizona to any state or local official with suspicion of his immigration status. This law also may affect players who are U.S. citizens but are suspected by law enforcement of being of foreign descent. – MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner

Amid the uproar over the new law, everyone from sportswriters to Congressman has urged Selig to take action. Some have suggested relocating the 2011 All Star Game, while others have advocated that baseball cease holding spring training in the state.

Obviously, some of these impassioned advocacies are not only impractical, but likely illegal. With half of the league training in Arizona, it would be logistically impossible to move 15 teams to another location, even with a year to plan. More importantly, the contractual agreements between the teams and Arizona municipalities, many of which have recently built brand new complexes with tax payer money, would put MLB on thin legal ice if they tried to pull out of the state.

MLB could appease the outspoken by revoking Arizona’s right to host the All Star Game, or making some other symbolic gesture (as the NFL did by refusing to award a Super Bowl to Arizona until it approved the Martin Luther King holiday). Doing so, however, could elicit an unfavorable response from a large segment of the sport’s fan base. In other words, Selig is damned one way or the other. What’s more, entering the fray on this issue could create a slippery slope that forces the league into taking a stand on many other hot button issues. Otherwise, its silence would take on meaning as a result of the precedent established by its response to this issue. (more…)

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